Worldbeat, unsettling soundtracks, sound-art, techno and more tonight, for the last Utility Fog of new music for the year! Mostly still music released in the last few weeks...
Michel Banabila - Illicit Acquirement [Tapu Records]
Earlier this year I had the privilege of appearing on an album of music from the great Dutch experimental electronic/world music composer & producer Michel Banabila, someone whose music I’ve admired for ages and who’s worked extensively with another great Dutch experimentalist, Machinefabriek among many others. The album called Uprooted engaged a group of musicians on mostly classical instruments to record layers of music for him, which he then rebuilt into complex compositions. One of those pieces was then stretched out to almost 20 minutes’ duration for a modern dance work by choreographer Yin Yue and the Pennsylvania Ballet, and it now appears alongside almost a decade of Banabila’s music for dance on a double vinyl release, Movements (music for dance). This gorgeous album demonstrates the breadth of Banabila’s music, including sound design, studio-moderated composition and rhythmic music that nods to African percussion, dub and techno. Tonight I’m playing about 2/3 of another long work, created this year for Patrick O’Brien at the CUNY Dance Initiative.
Richard Pike - Antifasc Darkjazz [Samon Universe Soundtracks]Richard Pike - Nazi Hell [Samon Universe Soundtracks]
Sydney musician Richard Pike and his brother Laurence Pike are best known for their shapeshifting band PVT (once Pivot). Richard is nowadays helming an ambient electronic label called Salmon Universe, and releasing his own ambient stuff as DEEP LEARNING, but he’s also made a mark as a soundtrack composer. His work for the TV series Romper Stomper conveys the turmoil and darkness of a study of true blue Australian neo-Nazis, a topic that was admittedly a little too close to home for me to push myself into watching (and the false equivalence it tries to draw between neo-Nazis and antifascists is more than a little on the nose). Pike’s excellent soundtrack is a mixture of orchestral cues, burbling synths, live drums and snarling electronics, not far at all from the soundtrack stuff Ben Frost has been doing of late. Even if you avoided the show, I highly recommend giving this a listen.
The Humble Bee & Benoît Pioulard - Per [Dauw]The Humble Bee & Benoît Pioulard - In the anodyne brisk [Dauw]
An unexpected collaboration that makes a lot of sense – Craig Tattersall’s humble catalogue stretches back to his part in Leeds’ greatest postrock/indie band Hood, and his half of the great electronic minimalists The Remote Viewer/The Famous Boyfriend, as well as similarly murky electronic/indie outfit The Boats. Montréal’s Benoît Pioulard is equally beloved in the ambient/lo-fi world for his strummy guitars and grainy tape textures. Like both artists’ work this duo album can be hard to bring into focus, yet it lingers and rewards repeat listens.
Matmos - Raven Gate [Matmos Bandcamp]Matmos - Skate Bounce [Matmos Bandcamp]
A surprise second 2019 album from Matmos, who earlier this year celebrated their “plastic” 25th anniversary both as a duo and a couple with one of their best albums in ages. This Bandcamp release documents a residency at Chalkwell Park in Southend on Sea in 2016, and was originally experienced as a site-specific app. It’s therefore their typical style of manipulated field recordings turned into weird sound-art and idm, with a bit of arch narration thrown in. So great.
Stephen Vitiello & Molly Berg - Mental Radio [IIKKI/Bandcamp]Steve Roden x Stephen Vitiello - All The Greens [Champion Version/Bandcamp]Stephen Vitiello - Simple Interference [Champion Version/Bandcamp]
I have been meaning to showcase some more of the music of New York sound artist Stephen Vitiello for ages, as I’m a huge admirer of his work, which is immensely thoughtful and immensely approachable. He’s recorded three duo albums now with Molly Berg, the third one just now released through French label/publisher IIKKI, who paired them up with photographer Jake Michaels for a book and CD or vinyl release. Their usual style continues here, with folky Americana instruments stretched out into ambient/post-something textures. Earlier this year, Vitiello released a series of four 7”s with fellow sound-art legend Steve Roden for the Champion Version label, each entitled I Always Wanted A Standing Cat, and Vitiello also produced a solo 7” for the same label. Field recordings, shimmering instruments, occasional tumbling drums (on both the solo release and the Molly Berg collaboration these are provided by Justin Alexander).
exael - calico [exael Bandcamp]exael - composure [exael Bandcamp]
Berlin-based US producer exael has previously released music on Beer on the Rug and Lillerne Tapes, among others. His latest EP appeared on his Bandcamp just in time for this last new playlist of the year, featuring some vaporwavey ambient flickering and a little bit of blissful jungle.
Shed - Menschen und Mauern [Ostgut Ton/Bandcamp]HOOVER1 - HOOVER1-3A [nOWTRecordings/Bandcamp]Shed - Trauernde Weiden [Ostgut Ton/Bandcamp]
René Pawlowitz has been busy lately releasing a pile of recent 12”s under various monikers through his NOWT label, including the drum’n’bass-loving HOOVER1. The new Shed album from the great Berlin techno producer is a hymn to some beloved East German countryside, but sonically it’s very much techno-oriented, albeit with lots of breakbeats and syncopation. There’s always been a little bit of idm to Shed’s sound, and I think we hear quite a bit here. It’s like slipping on a familiar overcoat and walking out to a remote Teutonic rave, only to find yourself at Berghain.
Liam Robertson - Wrestling Halfbeak Fighting Taxa [Redstone Press]Clouds - Peder Skram [Opal Tapes]
Scottish producer Liam Robertson is one half of the duo Clouds who’ve been around the post-dubstep/industrial techno axis for a while (not to be confused with the probably-now-defunct Finnish dubstep duo). Here we have bass-driven percussive, breaky techno with distorted vocal samples for a freaky dancefloor experience. His duo’s track from Opal Tapes’ 2017 compilation Contemporary Dance seems to mine similar terrain, but with a nice line in off-beat chords giving it a strange skank.
Giant Swan - 50 Year Old Daughter [KECK]Giant Swan - 'I' As Proof [KECK]
A year and a bit ago, Bristol duo Giant Swan appeared at Adelaide’s (sadly last) Unsound Festival. Their stage show is something to be witnessed – punk energy, sweaty blokes with shirts off, distorted vocals shouted into the mic while the beats vary from relentless techno to mutated, twisted electronic sounds. It’s hard to capture this on record, but there are times on their self-titled, self-released album when they succeed. I’ve chosen two of the less relentless 4/4 techno selections, for what it’s worth, but there’s plenty of vocal intensity here, among broken beats and basslines.
Bec Plexus - hypernormalization (original by Igor C Silva feat. Bec Plexus) [New Amsterdam Records/Bandcamp]
Excellent New York contemporary classical/experimental label New Amsterdam Records here are releasing music from the original Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Bec Plexus is an extremely versatile singer, working in the classical world and also with full-throated experimental rock & electronics with a track by originally by Igor C Silva, with lyrics Laura Nygren, and already angularly rhythmic and electronically messed-with before we get to the three remixes. All highly recommended, and looking forward to next year's album.
Bremer McCoy - Højder (Carl Stone Remix) [Luaka Bop]
Finishing up with something really special made by the brilliant laptop artist Carl Stone, who put out two wonderful new releases this year, after a couple of career-spanning compilations highlighting his pioneering work with live PC processing since the 1980s. Like much of the music under his own name, here he uses granular processing to scan through a track, inch-by-inch, gobbling up and spitting out fragments of the original audio to stretch and pulse and reconfigure it into something new. The original music here is from Danish duo Bremer McCoy, released on David Byrne’s internationalist Luaka Bop label. The coda, the last 2 and a bit minutes, reaches a melodic point which, drawn out by Stone's software, finds a trascendent, static yet motion-filled state of gorgeous grace.
This is an Australian track.
This is a local artist.